The Texas Observer reported in a 2012 article that Texas ranks second in the nation in the number of international parental abduction cases. Texas had 494 abduction cases reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Many of the children are taken by a parent to Mexico. If you are involved in a parental abduction case – whether you are accused of it or if you believe the other parent violated a child custody court order – know what it is and the legal implications.
What is parental kidnapping?
Texas Penal Code § 25.03 states, “A person commits an offense if the person takes or retains a child younger than 18 years of age” under certain circumstances listed below.
- If the person knows that taking the child violates the terms of a child custody order.
- If the person was not awarded custody of the child, is aware of a suit for divorce or civil suit regarding child custody has been filed, and takes the child out of a geographic area without the court’s permission “with the intent to deprive the court of authority over the child.”
- If the person takes the child out of the United States to deprive another party (often the other parent) of access to the child or custody of the child without that person’s permission.
Generally, parental kidnapping is when a parent takes the child or retains the child in violation of a court order that establishes child custody rights. For example, if a parent removes the child from the state without permission of the other parent or without permission granted in the court order, it may be considered kidnapping.
Legal Implications of Parental Kidnapping in Texas
The parent who is accused of kidnapping the child may face criminal penalties for violating the court order and taking the child. The accused may face charges of a state jail felony. This could lead to a jail term of 180 days to two years. The individual could face a fine of up to $10,000. If the individual used a deadly weapon when committing the crime or has previously been convicted of a felony, the charges may bump up to a third-degree felony with steeper penalties including longer jail terms and higher fines.
A parent who accuses the other parent of abducting the child may seek help from the police. The parent may also inform the court that the other parent violated the court order. This could ultimately affect the child custody or visitation rights of the parent accused of parental kidnapping. Thus, whether you are accused of kidnapping or are accusing the other parent of kidnapping, a lawyer can help you with civil family law matters.
Get Help from Warren & Migliaccio in Dallas
Warren & Migliaccio helps individuals throughout the Dallas area with family law issues, including those pertaining to child custody and visitation rights. Call Warren & Migliaccio today at (888) 584-9614 for a free consultation, or set up the consultation via our online contact form.